English: Mykel Hawke
English: Mykel Hawke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As a student of survival I have several survival books on hand to help teach me on my journey into the world of survival, bush craft and self reliance. If you read multiple books on the subject you start to see a pattern emerge, and you start to see a lot of the same themes being taught.

One thing that bothers me on survival shows is an emphasis on using primitive skills for starting a fire. I'm not saying this is a bad skill to know, but it glorifies the idea that one shouldn't go into the wilderness prepared.

In a 2014 article by David Peisner of TV Guide talking about the dangers of reality survival shows he writes:
In 2012, a 29-year-old man froze to death during a trek into the Scottish highlands, a trip reportedly inspired by [Bear] Grylls's show. That same year, another reported Man vs. Wild fan disappeared in the Smoky Mountains. While it's unfair to blame Grylls or anyone else for viewers' foolishness, shows like his certainly make survival look much simpler than it is.
A really popular TV survivalist, Cody Lundin used to say "knowledge weighs nothing" and used to promote the minimalist survival strategy on Dual Survival. Matt Graham often did the same thing when he replaced Cody. I think it gives the wrong impression to the average individual who hasn't spent 20 years living off the grid. Lundin has since gone on the record (Including in the above article) talking about how Dual Survivor and other Hollywood survival shows don't give an accurate picture of true survival.

With that in mind, in three of the manuals I have, the opposite of minimalist survival is stressed. In John Wiseman's "SAS Survival Handbook", Mykel Hawke's "Green Beret Survival Manual", and Dave Canterbury's "Bush Craft 101" they all stress the importance of heading out into the wild prepared with modern, and more importantly, RELIABLE means of starting a fire because your life depends on it!

For example, in the "SAS Survival Handbook" Wiseman stresses bringing matches:
However many lighters or fire makers you carry still pack as many matches as you can - you can not beat them. So called everlasting matches can be used over & over again but sooner or later even they pack up. So carry the ordinary matches as well. Work out which kinds gives you the most strikes for the weight and room they take up.
Hawke is more of a lighter fan in his "Green Beret Survival Manual" when he says:
Always carry a lighter. Everything else that follows in this chapter is what you have to do because you didn't carry a lighter. There are a million reasons at all times, and not one reason not to do so...

...The million reasons you should carry a lighter - or some other means of ignition - refer to the minimum number of strokes you will need to get a fire going when you have to resort to rubbing sticks together!
Dave Canterbury suggests carrying at least one of three modern items in your survival kit in his "Bush Craft 101" book. The three items are a lighter, a ferro rod or a magnifying glass. He says the following on lighters:
You should have at least three lighters: one for your pocket, one for your belt pouch or haversack, and one for your main pack. The weight is negligible and the reward is great.
These books also talk about how to start primitive fires using friction, but they stress that those methods are really a last resort because you didn't prepare enough.

You might be thinking to yourself about various scenarios when you wouldn't have some means of reliable fire starting. Maybe a car or plain crash when a survival scenario is unexpected. Who knows? The answer is still the same, you should always have some means of starting a far on your person. I always carry a cheap BIC lighter in my pocket, and my mini ferro rod on my key chain.

Do I expect to be in a survival situation? Not really, but if I end up in one, I will be prepared. Will you?